DA Williams Discusses Manslaughter Conviction, Stands With French Quarter Community Against Violence

Data News Staff Edited Report

NEW ORLEANS (May 1, 2023) – Today, District Attorney Williams, joined by Assistant District Attorney (ADA) Forrest Ladd and members of the Ricou Family, discussed the conviction of defendant James Patton for the fatal shooting of Russell Ricou, Jr., which took place in the French Quarter in January of 2022; the defendant received the maximum penalty for each charge: 40 years for manslaughter, 20 years for obstruction of justice, and 20 years for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Additionally, DA Williams stood with the French Quarter community and business leaders including Councilmember Freddie King; Project NOLA Executive Director, Bryan LaGarde; NOPD Eighth District Captain, LeJon Roberts; Business Council Criminal Justice Task Force Chair, Jim Cook; French Quarter Business Association Board Member, Jessica Dietz and members of the French Quarter Management District to take a stand against violence in the French Quarter and across New Orleans.

The French Quarter is a destination for many, but we must never forget that it is a residential community and is home to one of the largest concentrations of locally owned small businesses. We have to reclaim this fragile neighborhood, along with every other neighborhood in this city, from those who are seeking to wreak havoc and ignore the rule of law. This is a community group lift. No single agency or single solution alone will be sufficient enough to tackle the senseless violence plaguing our community. The DA’s Office is executing on outside-the-box solutions, utilizing new tools, and developing new partnerships to be more effective in court. The conviction of James Patton and his 3 maximum sentences are proof positive of these efforts to ensure that violent offenders are held accountable,” said DA Williams. “Having tried this case personally, I understand how essential crime camera video evidence was to the successful prosecution of this case. The witnesses who saw this murder happen did not show up in court for Mr. Ricou but we were able to meet our burden of proof in court because of that Project NOLA Crime Camera. I am extremely grateful to Russell’s family for the support and strength they’ve shown throughout this case. I also want to express our appreciation for the women and men of the NOPD, French Quarter community and business leaders, and all who sacrifice their time and resources to protect this important neighborhood and support the work of the DA’s Office as well as the criminal Legal System at large. Today, we take a stand, refusing to accept crime in the French Quarter or anywhere else in New Orleans. Together, we will reclaim The Quarter.”

According to police reports, Patton fatally shot Ricou in the head during a physical altercation. Last month, a jury unanimously found him guilty of manslaughter. Today, he received the maximum penalty for each charge: 40 years for manslaughter, 20 years for obstruction of justice, and 20 years for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

Victim’s Brother Denis Ricou said, “On behalf of the family of Russell Ricou, Jr., I want to thank the NOPD for their hard work in apprehending the criminal, Project NOLA for being the eye-in-the-sky witness, and the Orleans DA’s Office and judge for their quick deliberate moves to ensure justice was served. I implore the citizens and businesses of New Orleans to take back their city in the name of my brother and to take back control of their lives by preventing violent crimes and prosecuting to the fullest anyone that doesn’t follow the rule of law.”

As part of the investigation, the DA’s Office was able to use camera footage supplied by local businesses as evidence to support the prosecution. It played a critical role in proving guilty to the jury.

In addition to being home to a strong business community, the French Quarter also has a thriving residential community. DA Williams was joined by a number of French Quarter stakeholders committed to maintaining a safe community.

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